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BARGAINS / GERI COOK

Digging for Treasure : Cleveland Wrecking offers many items salvaged from its various demolition projects.

January 28, 1994|GERI COOK

LOS ANGELES — There are many avenues for the intrepid bargain-shopper. The more common are off- price retailers, discounters and factory outlets. But there's an area to investigate that is not for the timid--the demolition, or wrecking, company.

For 83 years, Cleveland Wrecking Co. has been demolishing structures around the world. Since the Northridge earthquake, the company has been hired to demolish several structures, including the Barrington Building, parts of Northridge Fashion Center, Topanga Plaza and the Trillium complex in Woodland Hills. Whether it has been hired to strip a building or totally demolish it, whatever remains in the structure becomes the property of the wrecking company.

Sometimes, decorators or architects purchase pieces on-site. When St. Paul's Episcopal Church in downtown Los Angeles was razed several years ago, the public was invited to purchase statues, stained glass windows, pews and lecterns.

More often, the salvage is moved to Cleveland Wrecking's yard, where builders, contractors and do-it-yourselfers dig for treasure. On network television several years ago, I showed some gargoyles that had adorned the old Atlantic Richfield building that Cleveland Wrecking demolished. A South Carolina man called right after and bought all 10 for $200 apiece.

Who knows who might want a 12-foot plaster statue of Abraham Lincoln from the old Los Angeles High School? It's yours for $1,500. Or a concrete plaque bearing the school's name, available for $500?

Recently, the Sheraton Town House was stripped by Cleveland's crew, and many of the fixtures are for sale. Brass table lamps are $10, as are some outdoor coach lights. A well-made sofa crying for a new cover was $50. Dishes and glassware from the dining rooms were in boxes and marked 25 cents each.

Not long ago, Disneyland hired Cleveland to do some work. As a result, curved pieces of wrought-iron fencing from the Anaheim park are available for $100 each.

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When the Beverly Hills Hotel was renovated recently, Cleveland did some demolition work there, and now you can find the white shuttered room doors selling for $50 to $100.

Don't expect to find any earthquake mementos. "There will be little or no salvage from these available in the store," said Irwin Bloom, the store manager.

The wrecking yard may be colorful and fun, but more mundane bargains can be found inside, where kitchen and bathroom cabinetry and fixtures are marked to sell for some of the lowest prices in town. A complete 84-foot kitchen assembly, including finished sink unit with Formica top, double sink, single-spigot faucet and unfinished cabinets is $285. Comparable units sell for about $400.

Vanities are available in a wide price range. A 19-by-17-inch marble-top unit, with sink but no faucets, is $39.95 (regular retail $59.95). A particularly good buy the day I visited was a polished brass bar faucet for $69.95 instead of $109.95.

Where to Shop

What: Cleveland Wrecking Co.

Location: 3170 E. Washington Blvd., near Soto Street, Los Angeles.

Hours: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays.

Cards: MasterCard, Visa.

Call: (213) 780-7675.

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